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Stage Managers

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to 2016-17: < 5 000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1151 to 1400 (Source: DEEWR Australian Jobs 2012: www.deewr.gov.au/australian-jobs-publication)
Brief Stage Managers work closely with everyone involved in creating and presenting a show including directors, choreographer, designers, performers, production managers, set builders, props makers, costume makers, lighting, sound, staging and vision technicians, company administration, publicists and front of house staff.
During periods of high demand Stage Managers often work on more than one show at a time to maximise their income during peak periods, e.g. rehearsing one show during the day, calling another show in the evening and fitting in one-night-stands on their ‘day off’.

Peaks in demand for Stage Managers can be seasonal so many Stage Managers also have skills in related areas, such as lighting or sound, to maximise their employability and continuity of employment. Stage Managers have to be proactive in seeking employment and are often organising employment several months to six months in advance.

Graduates are employed in all sectors of performing arts, entertainment and other creative industries including theatre, opera and dance companies, film and TV productions, arts centres, festivals and arts events, sports and tourism events, conventions and corporate theatre, museums, casinos, theme parks and other tourism linked entertainment.

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Introduction

While a show is being created, Stage Management provide the essential link between the rehearsal room and all the technical production and design departments. They provide technical interpretation of the set, props, costumes and other technical elements of the show for the director and performers and convey updates or questions arising out of rehearsals to the technical production departments and the designers. They participate in rehearsals and organise the rehearsal room and equipment. They also organise meetings, costume fittings, press calls and rehearsal schedules, and they document the whole creative and technical production process.

Stage Managers co-ordinate the shows transfer from the rehearsal room to the theatre, facilitate and document plotting for all the technical cues and co-ordinate the technical and dress rehearsals, which integrate the technical and the performance elements of the show.

During performances, they have the responsibility for signalling all the cues that co-ordinate the work of the performers and the lighting, sound, staging, vision and other show technicians and they liaise with front of house staff to co-ordinate the audience. During long performance seasons and on tour Stage Managers are also responsible for maintaining the technical standard and artistic quality of the show and may be required to call, co-ordinate and direct understudy and other maintenance rehearsals if required.

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Education Requirements

To become a professional Stage Manager you need an Advanced Diploma or higher qualification in Stage Management.

TAFE SA Adelaide College of the Arts offers the Advanced Diploma of Stage Management to help you gain entry to this occupation. Pathway includes the Certificate III in Live Production, Theatre and Events (Technical Operations). The Stage Management program at TAFE SA Adelaide College of the Arts has achieved close to 100% employment rates for its graduates for over a decade.

Desirable Entry Skills and Personal Attributes
To have the best chance at success you need basic computer skills - Word Processing & Spreadsheet, E-communication, and research skills. You also require good hand skills and basic tool skills, creativity, imagination and initiative. Maths or Science to year 10 level, good personal time management skills and proficiency in written and spoken English are also desirable skills for this occupation.
You also need to be,
- a ‘people person’ who likes working as part of a team
- a ‘self-starter’ able to work both independently and collaboratively
- a good, diplomatic communicator, able to work collaboratively with a wide range of people
- able to work under pressure and meet deadlines
- able to use creativity and innovation to troubleshoot and problem solve
- able to take on leadership roles
- able to work in a constantly changing environment
- highly motivated to pursue a professional career in entertainment or related industries
- and have a mature work ethic
This is a demanding occupation and you need to be reasonably physically fit and resilient to stress. Excellent communication and coordination skills and the ability to work under pressure are essential attributes.

Career Path

Initially graduates start out as Assistant Stage Managers. Over time by developing a good reputation and gaining the recognition of employers, directors and production managers, they move on to be employed as Stage Managers. Most often employment is gained through ‘word-of-mouth’, on the recommendation of other professionals.

Some people who train and work as Stage Managers choose to stay in stage management all their working lives. Other experienced Stage Managers progress to senior and executive level jobs such as Technical Manager and Production Manager for performing arts companies, arts centres, festivals and major events or in the film and television industries; Producer for events, commercial theatre and films and General Manager for performing arts companies and arts centres. Stage Managers are also employed by high schools and tertiary education and training organisations to provide technical support and to provide VET training for students.

The career paths for stage management include the following occupations;
Entry Level: Assistant Stage Manager, Props Buyer, Production Assistant
Middle Level: Deputy Stage Manager, Stage Manager, Technical Stage Manager, Production Co-ordinator, Events Co-ordinator, Programming Co-ordinator, Venue Co-ordinator, Continuity

Senior Level: Senior Stage Manager, Event Manager, Event Site Manager, Artist Services Manager, Production Manager, Technical Manager, Technical Director, Programming Manager, Venue Manager, Concert Manager, Orchestra Manager, Second Assistant Director, Floor Manager, Location Manager

Executive Level: General Manager, Operations Manager, Performers Agent, Producer

Relevant Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Codes
2536-19 Stage Manager, 4992-25 Production Assistant (Theatre), 4992-23 Production Assistant (Film, Television or Radio), 2536-23 Technical Director (Theatre), Specialisation: Production Manager, 1112-11 General Manager

Industries

Cultural and Recreational Services,  Music Industry,  Performing Arts and Entertainment Industries

Nature of the Job

Typical stage management tasks include,
-setting up the rehearsal room each day including setting props and costumes
-reading plans, taking measurements, making calculations, timing rehearsals and performances
-following the script, writing in performers moves and plotting technical cues to create the production, (prompt), script
-prompting performers and ‘reading in’ for absent performers
-operating sound, vision and other equipment
-buying and making props
-managing petty cash
-developing setting lists and running lists for props, costumes and set changes
-taking minutes at production meetings and other meetings then typing and distributing the minutes
-troubleshooting minor equipment problems
-writing and distributing schedules, rehearsal reports, performance reports and other production paperwork
-maintaining and repairing props
-working at heights
-using power tools

Typical Physical Working Environment

Stage Managers are usually based in capital cities or large regional cities. Stage Managers are usually employed on contract for a single show or a number of shows and only a few production companies and arts centres employ permanent stage managers. For short engagement of a day to a week stage managers may be paid an hourly rate. Stage Managers work long and irregular hours including nights and weekends to meet production requirements and contracts of employment for Stage Managers usually include a loading, (or over-award payment), in consideration of the expected overtime required. Stage Management is a highly portable career with the opportunity to travel and work worldwide.

Typical Occupational Example

There are people doing stage management jobs in every sector of the entertainment industry. From drama, dance, musicals and for other production companies to the music industry, major events, conventions and trade shows, film and television productions.

Earning Potential

Rates of pay vary from state to state and according to the industry sector and enterprise agreements. For experienced Stage Managers reputation may also be a factor in the salary they are able to secure. As a general guide full time Stage Managers salaries fall within the range of $45,000 - $65,000 per year, with higher salaries for those in senior and executive positions.

Further Information

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